| January 16, 2019

Chicago’s First Stop Health gains funds for better telemedicine services

Anca Spanu

Anca's career in journalism spans over 2 decades. She has served as staff writer, editor and deputy chief editor at... Anca's career in journalism spans over 2 decades. She has served as staff writer, editor and deputy chief editor at various media outlets all over the world. At Healthcare Weekly, Anca writes about current events, innovations in the healthcare space and events/ conferences with a focus on investing & startups.

Chicago-based First Stop Health, a leader in the telemedicine industry, announced, January 9th, it has secured $650,000 in additional financing, through a convertible note. First Stop Health has now raised a total of $7.85 million in equity.

What does First Stop Health provide and for whom?

First Stop Health is a provider of 24/7/365 non-emergency telemedicine services, which are purchased by employers for employees and their dependent family members.

Why is the service already so popular? The answer is plain as day: employees and their families have better access to highly qualified physicians with lower costs both for themselves and their employers. The well-being of the family as a whole increases, which means employees are happier, healthier, and more concentrated on work. One aspect that also weighs large when deciding on a telemedicine service: in most cases, employees and their dependent family members receive unlimited consultations. All of this happens without a need for people to actually go into the doctor’s office, wait to be examined, and then probably go back for test results and further treatment options. Plus, having access to certain highly qualified specialists can prove difficult, especially for people living in remote areas or simply far away from big hospitals.

An idea which revolutionized the patients relationship with the healthcare system

In 2011, when coming up with the idea to establish First Stop Health, co-founders Ken Anderson, Dr. Mark Friedman, and Patrick Spain wanted to use telemedicine to address two issues. One was the rapidly increasing and hard to sustain costs of healthcare services, the other was to fill the gap created between patients and primary care physicians because of the lack of the latter. Fortunately, as soon as they bundled patients and financial advocacy, the founders understood the company was able to also help employers and patients find their way through the maze of an opaque, and undoubtedly hard-to-understand healthcare system.

As we recently explained in one of our articles focusing on telemedicine, the term covers a variety of electronic means and solutions which help patients interact with doctors who are not physically in the same space. According to the US government, “the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.”

When did First Stop Health complete its own physician network?

First Stop Health initiated its sales activities to consumers in 2012 and to employers in 2013. In 2014, First Stop Health began offering nationwide coverage and in 2015 the company completed building its own physician network.

First Stop Health provides telemedicine services to consumers and employers.  Members’ health problems are treated at any time, the company assures, via phone and online. The company’s nationwide network of physicians provides high quality, easily accessible health care. The physicians in the First Stop Health network are licensed in all 50 states and D.C.

As an adjunct to its telemedicine services, First Stop Health doesn’t only provide telemedicine services, it is also a patient advocacy source for employees and financial advocacy (bill remediation) for employees and their employers. All telemedicine companies want to provide rapid, accessible and affordable care to its members. First Stop Health keeps this knowledge as a focal point of its endeavours in the interest of the patients, thus being in the vanguard of moving U.S. healthcare toward a consumer-centric system.

How will the new money be used to improve service quality?

Existing shareholders invested additional funds in privately held First Stop Health, the funding round being led by co-founders, Patrick Spain, the Chief Executive Officer, and Dr. Mark Friedman, the Chief Medical Officer. This proof of confidence allowed the company to secure the amount needed to further develop and provide better services.

“This investment provides the capital for First Stop Health to achieve continued 3-digit percentage growth in top line revenues,” Spain said. “This rapid growth reflects our focus on providing the industry’s highest utilization, with associated cost savings, to our largely self-insured client base of mid-market enterprises,” he added.

“The mission of First Stop Health is to provide easy access to convenient, high quality healthcare at an affordable price,” said Dr. Friedman. “Rather than ration care, as so many believe is the future of medicine, First Stop Health provides unlimited access to care at no cost to the employees and the dependent family members of our clients,” he added.

Clients seem happy so far, the founders declare, so the future of the company seems bright.

“Employees with insurance are choosing to consult with First Stop Health doctors via telemedicine in place of unnecessarily higher cost, time-consuming visits to physical facilities,” said Dr. Friedman.

Actually, First Stop Health provides its clients not only affordable  services, but also a contractual guarantee that ensures the service cost will not be higher than the direct healthcare cost savings realized. “To our knowledge, we are the only participant in the telemedicine industry to offer this type of absolute guarantee,” said Spain.

“Our telemedicine service provides a rare win-win for employees and employers in today’s employee benefits environment. We save money for employers, while improving the lives of members and their families,” Spain added.

About First Stop Health

Chicago-based First Stop Health provides telemedicine services to members 24/7/365 via phone, online video, and mobile apps. With convenient access to U.S.-based physicians in 50 states and the District of Columbia, members receive medical advice, diagnosis and treatment; including prescriptions, when medically necessary.

 


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